Jun 23, 2022

Dead F*&cking Last: Lessons from the Bottom of the Golf Tournament Leaderboard

golf tips and tricks mental hurdles of golf on the course

Golf can be humbling. It’s impossible to always play your best game of golf. Sometimes you just don’t do a great job at a golf tournament and end up at the bottom of the leaderboard—or DFL (dead f*&cking last), as we like to call it!

This happened to Tori recently playing in a golf tournament and instead of holing up in the corner to have a cry, she took to the Housewives of Golf podcast to share the experience. We invited the dudes, Adam Walicki and Abe Candelaria onto episode 49 to chat with Tori and Sarah about the experience of being DFL and all the lessons learned.

The thing is this: you might not play your best in every golf tournament, but there’s always something to learn from it. So, here are lessons learned from the bottom of the leaderboard so you can take our lessons and grow!

What Goes Wrong in Golf Tournaments

Failure is part of golf—that’s just the reality of it. And the more we normalize that as part of the conversation, the easier it is to accept it and use those failures to learn and grow. If you play golf, you need to get used to off days, mistakes, and challenges that result in high scores.

There are so many factors that contribute to how you play a round of golf and they break down into two sections: external and internal factors. Here are some of the big ones to keep in mind.

External distractions, environment, and conditions:

  • Other players or people on the golf course distracting you. This is something Abe experienced during the tournament, with a volunteer on the course calling out and distracting him and throwing him off for a few holes.
  • Players who have more experience than you. This is the most obvious one, but if you’re playing in a golf tournament with more experienced golfers, you likely won’t do as well!
  • Injuries or not feeling physically well. If you’re not feeling your best, you won’t play your best.
  • New or challenging course. If you’ve never played somewhere before, you probably won’t play your best game. Additionally, some courses are much harder than others that can really impact your game.
  • Timing. If you’re on a large course to move around or have timing issues with a late caddy or something, it can impact your game and mindset.

Internal mindsets and attitudes:

  • Off day. Sometimes you just wake up on the wrong side of the bed and have a tough time getting into the game.
  • Thrown off by the first hole. People can put a lot of pressure on the first hole in a game… but it’s just one of 18! So, if you blow it, try to shake it off and move on.
  • Intimidation by better golfers. If you’re playing with people who are more skilled then you, it’s normal to feel intimidated. But this is where your mindset comes in—you have to remember that everyone starts somewhere! So, focus on your game and do your best rather than comparing yourself to other people.

The point here is that there are a lot of ways for things to go wrong at a golf tournament. If you’re expecting a perfect course, perfect conditions, and perfect game—you’re in the wrong sport! Start being comfortable with being uncomfortable and use those challenges to help your game grow.

Losing Games, Winning Mindsets

When you get a high score, don’t make it into a golf tournament, or perform worse than normal, it can be discouraging. And we’ve all been there! The most important thing, though, is not if you fail. It’s what are you going to do about your failures.

In golf, failure is a good thing. Failing—or doing less than your best—has several positive effects:

  • It helps develop mental resiliency for the future, both on and off the green.
  • You become determined to keep learning and improving.
  • When you’re not at the top, there is less pressure on you, so you can focus on having fun and doing your best.
  • It helps you understand the game better because you can analyze what went wrong and how you can improve it in the future.

Failure fuels growth. Switch up your mindset to embrace it and learn from it—your golf game will thank you!

How to Keep Improving in Golf Tournaments

Even though failure is inevitable, it’s obviously not something to strive for. Instead, you want to strive for improvement and growth. Here are a few ways you can keep practicing and improving to become the best golfer you can:

  • Practice, practice, practice. Play golf whenever you can, practice with your friends, join golf tournaments, and just get out there. You will naturally keep improving and learning as you play.
  • Remember what you love about golf. What initially drew you to golf? Unless you aspire to go pro, it’s probably not to be the best player every time. Sure, you want to improve and grow, but there are other things that are amazing about golf: being outside, making friends, and having fun!
  • Do your mindset work. Golf is all about your mindset. So, try to keep things in perspective that the only way to learn and grow is to try, fail, learn, and keep going.
  • Play in golf tournaments to push yourself. If you’re invited to play in a tournament or can join one yourself—do it! The more competitive situations you put yourself in, the more you can grow and improve your game.
  • Fail… faster. If you’re not playing your best game, the most important thing to do is keep moving forward. Keep up pace of game and get through it—do your best to close it out and then move on to the next!

Coming in DFL is no fun for anyone. But it’s something that all golfers should expect to happen. And instead of letting it bring you down, let it fuel you to become a better golfer.

If you want to hear about all the nitty-gritty details of Tori’s experience coming in DFL at a recent golf tournament, make sure to check out episode 49 of the Housewives of Golf podcast. We’re nothing if not honest, so you can hear our exact thoughts on it all so that you can take some lessons and learn from it.


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